Our team has been putting the little dongle through its paces alongside Amazon’s Luna cloud gaming service to determine if the claimed performance boosts are all in the name of marketing or genuine.
Also, I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max is the complete package. Allow me to introduce you to it, and you can decide if it’s for you.
Those interested in upgrading to 4K from a conventional Fire TV Stick or Stick Lite can do it for $54.99 by purchasing the Fire TV Stick 4K Max.
Because of its superior processing speed, the integrated voice remote allows you to access your favorite shows and movies much more quickly than any other Fire TV Stick sold by Amazon. In addition, it works seamlessly with all of Amazon’s other services. The Max delivers the best performance of the bunch, at least for this form factor.
The price difference between the Fire TV Stick 4K and the Fire TV Stick 4K Max is $20. There is a price increase, but you get a more powerful processor, better Wi-Fi, and extra RAM. Pricing is highly competitive with other streaming sticks, such as Roku’s $69.99 Streaming Stick 4K+. Though we have yet to put the Stick 4K+ through its paces, the Fire TV Stick 4K Max is currently the most cost-effective option.
Compared to the Chromecast with Google TV, which costs $49.99, this one holds its own, providing a similar set of capabilities and streaming quality for virtually the same expense. The primary distinction between the two is your preference for a specific intelligent assistant platform. If you have Alexa or Echo devices from Amazon spread out across your home, the Stick 4K Max is your best bet.
Amazon’s Fire TV Stick 4K Max is physically similar to the original Fire TV Stick but is much longer.
You can attach this black, rectangular dongle to your TV’s HDMI connection without using the accompanying extension cable, or you can use the cable to hang it below your set. Amazon provides an Alexa Voice Remote, two AAA batteries, and all the necessary cords for the Fire TV Stick 4K Max, powered by a single Micro USB connector.
Once everything is wired together and powered on, you can begin setting up the device. We had just connected our Amazon account and were about to continue following the on-screen directions when we discovered an unusual occurrence.
Despite our extensive experience with Amazon Fire TV setup and testing, this was the first time we were presented with the option to restore a device from a previous backup.
We have yet to learn when Amazon started offering that feature. Still, we’re glad it’s available now—at this time, restoring backup downloads your applications and games. It’s a nice touch, but we still had to spend a lot of time logging back into services like Netflix, Hulu, and Discovery+, frequently with long and complex passwords because it doesn’t log you immediately into those apps and games. There needs to be an easier way to do this.
Having said that, it was nice to avoid having to redownload everything.
It took roughly 15 minutes to go from opening the box to watching our first show on a Fire TV Stick 4K Max.
Amazon has improved the Fire TV Stick 4K Max in every way. Additional memory, a speedier processor, and compatibility with Wi-Fi 6 are all new additions. These first two enhancements will work automatically without any action on your part. Still, higher Wi-Fi speeds will require a router compatible with the new Wi-Fi 6 standard. In other words, a Wi-Fi 6 compatible system, such as Amazon’s own Eero 6, has become our top choice for the best mesh Wi-Fi system. Wi-Fi 6 allows for increased wireless speeds and efficiently manages a more significant number of devices on a network.
Just so there’s no confusion: the Stick 4K Max can be used without a Wi-Fi 6 infrastructure. It will function with your existing Wi-Fi network, but you won’t benefit from the system’s features.
Now, let’s talk about how well it performs: navigating the Fire TV Stick 4K’s interface wasn’t difficult for us, but it’s even easier on the Stick 4K Max. Perhaps it’s all in our heads, but we attribute the improvement to the device’s increased RAM and a marginally speedier processor.
With just three primary tabs along the top, Home, Find, and Live, the Fire TV interface was intuitive and easy to browse. Each category lists several apps, TV shows, and movies that may be accessed with a few clicks of the Alexa Voice Remote.
Launching a Netflix original series like “Squid Game” takes only seconds. The improved performance is partly responsible for this, but Wi-Fi 6 also plays a role.
The visual quality is excellent, and Amazon’s Stick 4K Max continues the company’s tradition of producing flawless 4K streaming devices. The contrast between the black masks and the pink clothing in “Squid Game” is striking.
The Stick 4K Max is a 4K streaming media player supporting Dolby Vision, HDR, HDR10+, and Dolby Atmos sound. You’ll need a TV that can handle all of those specifications, of course.
Gaming performance and monitoring
On top of that, we put Amazon’s cloud streaming service, Luna, through its paces using the Fire TV Stick 4K Max. To use the Luna Controller with the Stick 4K Max, we had first to register it with the stick and then launch the Luna app. Amazon’s $5.99/month Luna+ subscription grants access to a library of games, including some of the best in the industry, like Dirt 5 and Metro Exodus. While titles like Far Cry 6 and Assassin’s Creed from Ubisoft are available, they are locked behind a paywall that costs $17.99 monthly to access.
Everything worked perfectly; it was like playing games on an Xbox or PlayStation hooked up to the TV. You won’t get the complete graphical experience of a console gaming system because games max out at 1080p.
Using the Stick 4K Max’s new picture-in-picture mode, we could check out our outdoor security cameras without switching screens. Ring and Blink, two video cameras sold by Amazon, are supported. Suppose you have an Amazon account and an Alexa Voice Remote. In that case, you can access any camera in your Amazon account with just your voice.
The Ring Floodlight was used with the “Show my garage camera” command during testing, after which a feed from the camera monitoring the front of the home would be displayed. When you choose the PiP button, the feed is reduced in size, and a thumbnail appears in the upper right-hand corner of the display.
We could navigate the user interface without interruption or delay while the camera feed was still active. While waiting for the children to return home, we watched “Wednesday” via streaming. It works similarly to how the Apple TV 4K displays footage from HomeKit-enabled cameras on a large screen, and it’s very cool.
Having used the Fire TV Stick 4K Max for a few days, I can confidently recommend it. Not only is it the most powerful Fire TV Stick available for $54.99, but it also outperforms all Roku streaming players.
Stick 4K Max outperforms Google’s $50 Chromecast dongle, which has similar functionality. We can’t wait to put the Roku Stick 4K+ through its paces, but after a little while with the Stick 4K Max, it’s evident that Roku finally has some tough competition.
The Fire TV Stick 4K Max is Amazon’s most powerful streaming media player, so it’s worth the additional money if you want the highest-resolution picture possible. Just do it; you won’t regret it.
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